Arts, health and wellbeing

‘RISE – Arts and Mental Health Symposium’ took place at Heart of Hawick in May this year where local and national speakers shared current thinking and showcased best practice.

This one-day event brought together artists, health and social care professionals, and third sector organisations from the Borders and across Scotland to explore the positive contribution that arts and creativity can make to people’s lives.

CABN – the Creative Arts Business Network which is part of charity Live Borders – recently teamed up with NHS Borders and Scottish Borders Council to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival and to highlight how creativity supports mental health and wellbeing across the region.

“We are keen to enable a more joined-up and collaborative approach to supporting health and wellbeing through innovative projects and partnerships with a range of arts organisations and practitioners,” said Live Borders’ Connected and Creative Communities Manager, Lisa Denham. “Whether doing something creative, attending an evening of song and dance or even making a film exploring depression, these activities can all help develop an understanding of how taking part in cultural experiences can support individuals, as well as the health and wellbeing of the wider community.”

Live music was provided on the day by Millie Hanlon Cole, an 18-year-old Singer/Songwriter known simply as Millie. Millie performed live in the Heart of Hawick Auditorium and showcased some of the skills she developed as part of ‘Sound Cycle’, the Youth Music Forum project in the Borders that builds opportunities in music for young people, supported by Youth Borders.

The symposium had a focus on young people’s emotional health and creativity in recognition of the Year of Young People. It is known from local and national consultations that mental health is a big issue for many young people and that building resilience is a priority. Clare De Bolle from YouthBorders, Tom Swift of VOMO and Niall Campbell and Catrina Barquist from Borders College all presented on this theme.

Also providing information and inspiration on the day was Kevin Harrison from Artlink Central, Siobhan McConnachie from the National Galleries of Scotland and artists Sushiela Jamieson and Sharon Quigley.   Allyson McCollam, Associate Director of Public Health who led the panel discussion at the event, said; “The programme was really imaginative and varied and it was fantastic to have such a range of people there and so much information sharing and networking. The symposium laid the foundations for future collaboration on mental health and the arts. I am delighted that we have started the process of the Borders being involved in the Scottish Arts and Mental Health Festival.

“Research has shown the beneficial impact that the arts and creativity can have on mental health and wellbeing and we are already making plans to build on this for the future.”

Lynne Irons, Director of Managed Services at Live Borders, adds: “Talking about mental health is not something everyone is comfortable with. The opportunity to engage with so many partners on all of the positive work delivered by arts and creativity programmes was inspiring. Live Borders delivers services that offer people the opportunity to learn and enjoy new skills, belong to groups and communities and nurture their interests and wellbeing. Working with partners there is more that we can and will do to support the promotion of positive mental health.”

For more information on the work we do with the arts, click HERE.

Live Borders is a charity. Every penny you spend with us is reinvested into supporting active, creative and healthy communities in the Scottish Borders.